Eschewing the over-the-top costumes and writing that typify many other murder-mystery dinners, The Dinner Detectives’ cast of improvisational actors blends in with audiences, holding secrets tight to their chests while steering each night’s tension-filled storyline. After a diner is found murdered, a resident detective helps lead the investigation, allowing guests to interrogate one another with Tickle Monster tactics to distinguish the culprit among the crowd of fellow diners and dissembling thespians. Multicourse meals keep bodies well fueled during spurts of crime-solving intuition, and a prize basket awaits the gumshoe who comes closest to solving the case.
Listed in the National Registry of Historic Places, the McDonald Theatre has enjoyed a long, strange history since its establishment in 1925. Originally a community playhouse equipped with both a stage and a screen, the theater found new life in the 1950s when One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest author and psychedelic pioneer Ken Kesey began presenting free cartoons there every Saturday morning. The McDonald spent the next six or so decades as a movie house exclusively, but in 2001, the Kesey family returned, producing concerts and community events under the theater’s enormous proscenium arch. Kesey Enterprises finally purchased the time-weighted stage in 2009, and today the building hosts events ranging from high-school proms to reggae concerts to plumbing-fixture lifting contests.
Ingredient-Driven Cuisine | Local Focus | Celebrity Chef | Popular Happy Hour | Funky, Repurposed Decor
Where to Sit: When making a reservation, ask for a corner booth. If you time your dinner just right, you can pair it with a stellar view of the sunset from this spot.
When to Go: Happy hours (Tuesday–Friday, 5:30 p.m.–7 p.m.) spotlight cheap drinks and discounts on sharable small plates.
Inside Tip: You, too, can learn to cook like Chef Jenn Louis, a former contestant on Top Chef Masters. Louis has divulged a handful of her most popular recipes to the Wall Street Journal, including one for a "last-meal-on-earth-worthy" burrata cheese with roasted nectarines and pistachio-herb oil.
Fun Fact: Some of the restaurant's funky decor is the result of creative repurposing. The tables and benches are forged from reclaimed wood from Kentucky tobacco houses, and parts of the bar are crafted from recycled chicken coops.
Chicory: this plant’s spicy, bitter leaves are often used in salads, while its ground-up roots make a flavorful coffee substitute or additive.
Kohlrabi: also known as a German turnip or turnip cabbage, this is a type of cabbage with a texture and taste similar to a broccoli stem, but a bit sweeter.
While You're in the Neighborhood
Get creepy-crawly: Browse the assorted taxidermy, skeletons, insects, and assorted neo-Victorian oddities at Paxton Gate (4204 N. Mississippi Avenue).
Get artsy: Start upstairs at Land Gallery (3925 N. Mississippi Avenue), where you’ll find a new exhibition each month, before scoping out the paper goods and crafts from more than 100 artists for sale downstairs.
If You Can’t Make It, Try This: Sunshine Tavern (3111 SE Division Street), also owned by Chef Louis and her husband, features the same hip, unmistakably Portland vibe of its sister spot but with a more casual menu of pizza, sandwiches, and corn dogs.
Like the philosophy-based salons and cafes of 19th-century Europe, Funhouse Lounge is a place where locals can revel in local art and entertainment over drinks. On many nights, the stage plays host to local acts showing off skills at karaoke, open-mic comedy, and music. Saturday evenings also welcome local improv groups that take the stage with off-the-cuff comedy scenes. While watching neighbors and friends show off their talents, guests split eccentric appetizers such as Irish nachos made from potato chips, cheese sauce, and sour cream or the Ho Ho trifle. The drink menu is equally as whimsical, with bartenders mixing up carnival-themed drinks such as the Bumper Car with Southern Comfort, amaretto, and sloe gin. The Midway Mojito boasts fresh-squeezed lime and a very slim chance of going home with an oversized stuffed tiger.
The Murder Mystery Company's talented troupe of improv actors performs live-action murder mysteries at public and private events to sharpen guests' latent detective skills. Throughout the play, the cast drops hints and misdirects blame, inviting audience members to get involved in a web of intrigue and hilarity. Besides public dinner parties, murder mysteries can unfold during corporate events, team-building exercises, and birthday parties for aging Sherlock Holmes impersonators.
Tiese Morgan took over Hosanna Dance Studio in 1995, infusing the school with her lifetime of experience and vision of dance as a worshipful act. She started annual performances of Adventures in Narnia and founded the Hosanna Youth Performers company, giving her young dancers a chance to shine on stage rather than just in the classroom. She supplemented these news performance opportunities by increasing the variety of dance classes and the age range of students. Now, she and her staff teach everything from ballet and tap to modern and hip hop to kids, adults, and everyone in between.